Worawa Term 1 Newsletter 2020

Worawa Model of Wellbeing

Within a boarding education environment, the issue of relationships is fundamental and this has been a focus this term. Attachment theory suggests that it is within the relationships with other adults that young people learn how to best grow and develop.

It is within these relationships, the everyday interactions, where modelling and care are demonstrated in small units of exchange between adolescent and adult, that young people learn to be safe, calm and curious.  The relationships that are developed and formed between students and staff provide a predictable secure base where students feel seen, heard, safe and secure. This provides an environment where students feel safe when they are appropriately challenged; facilitating learning experiences to help them explore and learn.

Since its establishment, Worawa has recognised the importance of addressing the health and wellbeing of students to enable them to focus on education. In 2011 the College introduced a strong focus on wellbeing commencing with the engagement of Maria Ruberto, Director Psychologist of Salutegenics.

This commenced a process where increasing understanding responses to anxiety in the brain and body were first explored with staff and how stress affects functioning and learning.

As an educational institution, it is the responsibility of every staff member to ensure that they “work to role”, and not “work to save”. Core to this is Protective Interruption: an action taken by an adult to purposefully interrupt a student disclosure or narrative around trauma whilst holding the student in care with supportive and empathic presence and safety.

Confidential Behaviours are safety measures employed by staff to ensure that student trauma or conflict is neither re-experienced nor transferred in a non-clinical space. This is protective against the re-experience for the student and vicarious trauma for staff. Hand-Over is the real-time support of a student who requires immediate intervention or co-regulation until the student can return to their place of learning. Whilst maintaining a duty of care, staff are required to remain “in-role” and not spill over into areas outside of their role. Spillover behaviour is reactive and does not develop student competency; it works against the model of wellbeing.

Hand-Back protects the integrity of the student’s grievance, as well as the integrity of the relationship from where the rupture has occurred. Adults lead the student back with support and respect to the concerned staff member. The student may decide if they can do this alone or with another staff member’s support. It is important that Hand-Back is managed in a timely manner and in the best interests of the student.

Over a period of a decade, Worawa has evolved its wellbeing hub where research and evidence-based practices have led staff training to create a community of practice that can lead young Aboriginal women into their adult lives and beyond.

The College is in discussions with a university for a research proposal based on the four essential circles that form The Worawa Model of Wellbeing framework. Each Circle describes an element of social-emotional functioning that is imperative to the wellbeing and resilience development of both staff and students. A research proposal would focus on a set of measures that would align with the four circles of wellbeing that might include:

  • Relationships – measuring social competencies and social strengths
  • Balance – measuring the ability to de-escalate, down-regulate and respond to co-regulation – levels of self-soothing
  • Consistency – measuring the ability for social communication to develop problem-solving ability and apply and follow a stepped-care process
  • Social/Emotional Core – measure emotional intelligence in all areas

The research project will align these measures with academic achievement in order to assess how wellbeing informs learning. In addition, the project will incorporate investigating levels of resilience as well as levels of assertive communication and bullying.

Girls Head Home

Our girls have left Worawa to return home to their communities. We wish them all a safe and happy journey and hope to see them again soon. The school term ended early due to the Coronavirus pandemic. At the time of publication Term 2 will commence on Monday 14 April.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) ADVICE

On Sunday 22 March, the Premier announced additional steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), including bringing forward the school holidays in Victoria to commence from Tuesday 24 March. Worawa will provide updates to the College community relating to government decisions on schools’ operation.

Building Progress

We are pleased to announce that the new building is near completion. This building will replace the portable classrooms that were donated to the College in the early 90’s. In years since the portables have been used for a staff room as well as classrooms. The new building will house classrooms, teacher’s staff room and offices for the delivery of the College health, wellbeing and pastoral care programs. A landscaped garden plan that compliments existing gardens will be put in place during the break.

Civics and Citizenship

In Civics and Citizenship for our year 9 and 10 students this term we took the opportunity to use the recent events to discuss how the Australian Identity has changed over time. This includes taking into account the influence of media, our history, and changing perspectives. We shared images, poetry, media clips and news stories to highlight what it is that makes us Australian.

We considered stereotypes used around the world such as ‘Do we own pet kangaroos?’ and ‘Do we all eat Vegemite on toast?’ We considered how the wording of poetry creates imagery of our vast landscape with Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’ and Hyllus Maris’ ‘Spiritual Song of the Aborigine.’

It was interesting to see the students react to advertising campaigns that were released prior to the fires for the British trying to understand ‘Brexit’ in December and how the tone of Australian tourism shifted to a recovery focus after the fires in January.

For our conclusion to the topic, we have started creating a timeline of people, places and events that have shaped our extended Worawa community over time. Each student has selected important moments of significance for them in Aboriginal history. Next term we are looking at the process currently underway for Treaty and the events that led up to Treaty becoming a priority amongst State governments.

‘Spiritual Song of the Aborigine’

I am a child of the Dreamtime People
Part of this Land, like the gnarled gumtree
I am the river softly singing
Chanting our songs on my way to the sea

My spirit is the dust-devils
Mirages, that dance on the plain
I’m the snow, the wind and the falling rain
I’m part of the rocks and the red desert earth

Red as the blood that flows in my veins
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides
Through the rain forest that clings to the mountainside
I awakened here when the earth was new

There was emu, wombat, kangaroo
No other man of a different hue
I am this land
And this land is me

I am Australia.

Hyllus Maris  1934-1986

The Worawa Economy and Maths

The term ended on a high with a Worawa Economy sale. Students had the chance to buy items such as books, jewellery, DVDs and activities to do at home. Throughout the term, students have been collecting Class Dojo points, which convert to Worawa Dollars for the sale. They earned points by showing positive behaviour and displaying the four key Worawa values of Relationship, Respect, Rigour and Responsibility. At other times, students lost points as a consequence for behaviour choices that have impacted negatively on them and other students. The Year 9 and 10 students practised their financial literacy and work place skills by acting as the shop assistants for the stalls. In groups, they considered how best to display their stock, set up their stall and to sell their items. In the midst of excited customers, they stayed calm and supported each other. The afternoon ended with the Year 9 & 10s calculating their stalls profits and taking the responsibility to pack up their stall. Thanks to the hard work of those students, the sale was a great success.

Times Table Self Help Guide

For the duration of Term 1, students have been working on Multiplication. As a topic for an article, it may not seem exciting or riveting. We didn’t go on any amazing excursion; we weren’t visited by any celebrity sport stars; we didn’t even get a T-Shirt. BUT…what the students have been learning, is that there are many ways to work out a problem by using what they already know. The students also learnt that there are two parts to working out a multiplication problem: The Calculation (that is the Times Table stuff) and the Process for using the Calculation (the Algorithm). The goal of this approach has been to make times tables accessible and achievable for all of our students. The motto for all of this has been, ‘Work Smarter and Not Harder’.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM)

This term in STEAM we focused on Physics in our Science lessons and started using Micro:bits in our 7/8 Technology class. Our 9/10 Technology Academy have begun applying the Design Thinking process to solve real world problems.

In our Physics focus we looked at forces and simple machines through an exploration of the Woomera (spear thrower). Our lessons were jam packed with practical activities including see saws and tug of war competitions to understand balanced and unbalanced forces. An experiment on ‘throwing style’ was carried out to look at direction of force and testing of the different lever classes to determine how levers help make work easier. We did not use actual spear throwers at school, instead replacing these with tennis ball throwers which could be used by all students, were safe and fun and worked on the same scientific principles as the spear thrower. Photographs and videos of these practical experiments have been uploaded to each student’s online Class Dojo accounts for them to look at and share with family and friends. (Michael photo of Woomera here P 8/9 of Eucalypt artefact book)

We continued our partnership with Melbourne University to run our 7/8 Technology class with each student receiving a ‘Micro:bit’. This is a pocket sized computer which students coded to spell out their name in lights, show a range of pictures, play scissors, paper, rock and many other digital activities.

Our Technology Academy was introduced to the Design Thinking process this term as a method for solving real world problems. The students focused on food for their introductory lessons using the process to develop their own healthy and delicious soft drink and to determine the best method for making jelly.

In Term 2 they’ll be applying the process to the development of wearable technologies.

Art News

It has been a great first term in Art this year. The students are progressing very well on their designs and or paintings and some of the returning students have completed pieces that they had not finished at the end of last year. The art room is once again full of works in progress and finished pieces. The creative energy within the art room is driving and inspiring all the students to not give up, keep trying and to do their very best. The proof of this is apparent when one enters the art room and is surrounded by the vast array of high quality student Art Work.

Caring for Country

This term during Caring for Country, years 7 and 8 have been focusing on the topic ‘Landforms and Landscapes.’ Students have engaged with the different types of landforms around Australia including Uluru, The Heart Reef, Katherine Gorge, The Three Sisters and Bungle Bungle.

Students have studied the different characteristics of Australian landscapes such as deserts, forests, rivers, coasts and built city environments, looking at the different plants, animals, people and pollution you may find there.

Additionally, students have reflected on, shared and noted the different personal values a landscape can hold relevant to their life and country, these values can include the emotional, historical and spiritual value of a landscape. (Michael use Dandenong Ranges image)

In years 9 and 10, students have been focusing on the unit ‘Biomes and Food Security’. This unit examines the biomes of the world, their need as a source of food and how humans change these environments to suit themselves.

Management solutions have been investigated as students research the means of Goat Aid, zero waste restaurants and the positives and negatives of increasing technology in farming. Students have practiced their data analysing and graph interpretation skills as they explore a chosen case study country to find out its levels of food security, population, economic status and potential reasons for why the country is in food insecurity or security.

Students display all of their gained knowledge on an informative infographic for other students.

First Term Special Afternoon Tea

In period six on Wednesday, 18th March we celebrated the successes of our top students with a special afternoon tea. We were pleased to have Aunty Lois as our special guest. After some words of encouragement from Aunty Lois, the girls’ choir entertained us with a beautiful song called ‘Never seen the rain’. Their music teacher, Sarah-Rose accompanied them on the piano. While we dined on cake and cups of tea, Miranda and Darnell played some pieces of music on the piano. The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We look forward to our next special afternoon tea with more students who have reached their Worawa goals of responsibility, rigour, relationships and respect.

Cultural Mentor

My name is Talia Gulpilil-Bryan, I am a proud Yolngu, Wemba-Wemba, Yorta-Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman. While working at Worawa with the girls I’ve been incredibly blessed to have made some great connections with the girls while teaching about weaving, cooking, yarning circles and ochre painting. The girls I have been lucky to work with, have shared the importance of their cultures and cultural practices. I’m looking forward to next term and continuing our shared love for our culture.

English Language

Students commenced the year recognising and honouring oral storytelling traditions, reflecting on their journey to Worawa: some for the first time, others returning to continue their educational journey. These stories were then recorded as students considered sentence and text structure and the use of descriptive language. Examining oral, visual and written persuasive texts, students explored how both as an individual and collectively they can use their voices and opinions to advocate for change on issues they connect with. Kombadik analysed Emma Watson’s “He For She” speech and considered the persuasive devices used to convey a powerful message. In response, they developed their own expositions linked to issues they felt strongly about. Other English classes looked at topics such as changing rules, the involvement of children in physical activity, the importance of learning how to cook and how to change the curriculum. Exploring how to consider both sides of an argument and identify and use a variety of persuasive devices when speaking and writing resulted in well informed and articulated opinions across the year levels.

During Term One students were also given the opportunity to select novels or texts that interested them and delve into these, either individually as or class groups. Titles selected included, Grace Beside Me, Cathy Freeman’s Born to Run, Wonder, Charlotte’s Web, Manga and beautiful pictures books that were often from students’ own communities.

It was wonderful to see students engage with the extensive literature selection available at Worawa. We are eagerly looking forward to the opening of our new library in Term 2 where students will continue to explore, expand and challenge their knowledge through written, visual and oral mediums.

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)

Our 2020 VCAL students have started their year 11 and 12 programs successfully this term. Not only have they commenced Certificate II in Business, they have also been kicking goals in the maths program by showing great improvement in all skill areas. As part of their VCAL Projects they have been Finding Their Voice by studying the leadership styles and approaches of past and present Aboriginal leaders of social, environmental and land rights change. A highlight this term was attending the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee meeting (RAJAC) and seeing how a number of agencies and organisations work together to advocate and create change for Aboriginal communities. The students have also been learning a great deal about electronic presentation formats using websites and programs such as www.Canva.com

At year 11 and 12 it is vital that students find their voices and raise their voices in all aspects of their lives with confidence and certainty. Understanding their right to opinions and ideas about the world they live in and having the ability to express these ideas and opinions respectfully and with confidence is an important preparation for the next few steps in their lives and for a lifetime.

Sports Academy

The students in Sports Academy have been working hard on their fitness and health goals this term. They have spent the term participating in recreational activities as well as learning different ways to exercise and stay fit. In the gym they went through circuit and weight training and are on the way to earning their Sports Academy rugby tops. Last week students went to Healesville Lawn Bowls club and were taught by the members of the club the rules and techniques of the game. They really enjoyed the game and the strategy required to win. Understanding the importance of persistence and endurance as part of the rigour needed to be an athlete, coach or fitness instructor in the future has been an important value to develop.

Download Term 1 Newsletter 2020